Online Doctor Review Fraud

How many of you go online and look at reviews before you go to a new restaurant, hire a new hair stylist, get a pet groomer for your dog, or in this case, look for medical help like a doctor or dentist? Well, recent statistics report that at least 70% of us start with an online search. But beware – the five-star rating you see may not be what it appears.

Fake online doctor reviews are on the rise. Who knew that was a thing right!? It’s a sad reality. And even more frightening is the fact that doctors and offices are hiring people to write fake reviews, just so they can make more money.

The scope of the problem is massive and there seem to be a lot of Facebook groups who are devoted to buying, selling, and trading fake online positive reviews. It’s an open marketplace!
So, what makes these reviews suspicious? Yelp reviews have been found to be written by people using the exact same words, written by people in different cities, and written by the same people on different days.

Red Flags:
• If you read a review the keeps referring to the doctor as “she,” but the doctor is male.
• Look for identical reviews. Particularly, look past the stars and skim the text to see if the details make sense for that business.
• Beware of a large number of five-star reviews following a negative one

Other things to look for:
• Look for the section of reviews on Yelp that says “… reviews that are not currently recommended.” It lists one-star ratings first. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see it.
• Take the time to really look for a new medical professional and thoroughly read the reviews.

Last year Yelp closed 85,000 user accounts due to potentially fraudulent or abusive behavior. Maybe we should go back to the word-of-mouth method. Just ask a friend!

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